Thousands Protest Against Modi Over Kashmir Outside UN Headquarters In New York

Thousands Protest Against Modi Over Kashmir Outside UN Headquarters In New York

kashmir-protest

New York : 28th Sep, As India and Pakistan addressed the world this morning from the podium at the United Nations General Assembly, thousands of Indian Americans, Kashmiris, and US rights groups protested against Narendra Modi over his government’s clampdown on Kashmir outside the UN headquarters in New York.

The Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI), who organised the protest, said in a press release that Modi is “orchestrating a pogrom of hate and violence against Muslims and Dalits in India,” and is “disenfranchising over seven million Kashmiris”. The Modi government had “rendered nearly two million people stateless in Assam and is building detention centres to imprison them,” they said referring to the NRC exercise.

The protest was attended by many leading activists and academics including prominent historian and academic professor Audrey Truschke and Sunita Vishwanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights.

Calling Hindutva “a bigoted political ideology with many victims”, Truschke said she opposes the government because of the fact that India’s religious minorities had faced increasing disenfranchisement and violence under Modi’s tenure. The government had condemned the media, institutions and anyone who questioned his actions, his power and his ideology. She said that Hindutva supporters openly admire Hitler and they supported the treatment meted out to Jews by Hitler in Germany.

“The Modi government has been clear in its message that criticising, or even merely accurately describing, Hindutva comes with increasing risks, which makes the scale and diversity of the current protests all the more astonishing. I urge global leaders to listen, not only to Modi but to those he has not yet managed to silence,” Truschke said.

The national general secretary of the Indian American Muslim Council, Mohammad Jawad, said that the Modi government followed the RSS’s Hindutva ideology which was responsible for all atrocities and lynchings against minorities. “We are not anti-India or anti-Hindu. We are only demanding basic human rights that the Constitution of India guarantees for all citizens,” he said.

Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, said that the government was destroying Indian democracy in the name of Hinduism. “As Hindus, as Indians, and as people of conscience, we say ‘Not In Our Name’,” Viswanath said.

Hawk Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, said, “We stand united against governments that exploit the most vulnerable.”

James Sues, executive director at the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in New Jersey, said that the Modi government had “illegally stripped” the people of Kashmir of their autonomy. “We call on world leaders of conscience to reject the fascist agenda of Mr Modi and the BJP and stand with the marginalised minorities of India,” Sues said.

CAFI has demanded that the Modi government restore Article 370, end Kashmir’s “military occupation” and respect Kashmiris’ right to decide their own future. It has also demanded the repeal of the Public Safety Act and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the termination of the National Register of Citizens and an end to the lynchings of Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis.

The organisation also called for the freeing of political prisoners like Professor G.N. Saibaba and those in the Bhima Koregaon case and has demanded the withdrawal of “false cases” against anti-caste activists such as Anand Teltumbde.

The protest was co-sponsored by the Alliance for a Democratic and Secular South Asia, Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch and Indian American Muslim Council. The protest has also been endorsed by several organisations and groups including Black Lives Matter (Greater New Y0rk), Democracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia (DESSA), Winnipeg; India Civil Watch (ICW-Canada) and the Jewish Voice for Peace NYC.

The day before, members of the Sikh and Patidar community had demonstrated outside the UN headquarters in New York when Modi was delivering a speech on Sustainable Development at a special UN summit. The protesters, under the banner of Sikhs for Justice, alleged human rights violations in Punjab and demanded a referendum in 2020 for a separate Khalistan.

Almost 7 mn face hunger in South Sudan: UN

Almost 7 mn face hunger in South Sudan: UN

Almost 7 mn face hunger in South SudanRome : Nearly 7 million people in South Sudan could face acute food shortages between May-July — the height of the lean season — three UN agencies warned on Friday, urging a major humanitarian aid effort and better access to humanitarian relief.

“Food insecurity is increasing in 2019,” said Simon Cammelbeeck, the World Food Programme Acting Country Director in South Sudan.

“Unless we scale up humanitarian and recovery activities soon, more and more people will be at risk. This is especially worrying as those most in need of assistance are malnourished women and children. We are gearing up to respond to this large rise in food needs,” he said.

The number of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from has already climbed 13 per cent since January last year, the World Food Programme, the UNICEF children’s fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a joint statement.
Those facing acute food shortages include some 30,000 people in Jonglei and Lakes states, in eastern and central South Sudan, the statement said, citing a new report issued by the government, FAO, UNICEF and WFP.

The Unity and Upper Nile areas of Sudan are also particularly at risk, the report found.

Local cereal production this year will only supply 52 per cent of the country’s cereal needs, compared to 61 per cent in 2018, according to the report.

The poor have been particularly vulnerable to high food prices and the limited availability of food in markets. Some 50,000 people will be facing famine between May and July, a number that could reach 260,000 without a boost to humanitarian aid is, the report warned.

“The projections are alarming and food security continues to worsen. Together with the people of South Sudan, we need to act urgently to reverse this trend,” said Pierre Vauthier, FAO’s Representative in South Sudan.

“Our priority is to support families to maintain and increase their production, and help agro-pastoral communities preserve their livelihoods,” Vauthier added.

Hunger continues to be driven by the cumulative effects of conflict, associated population displacement, depleted livestock and ongoing disruption of food production, the report said.

Prolonged dry spells, flooding, crop disease and pest infestation have also severely impacted agricultural production which is largely rain-dependent.

If the overall situation in South Sudan deteriorates and the population has no humanitarian assistance for an extended period, there is a real risk of famine in those areas where food is already very scarce, the report underlined.

Malnutrition levels remain critical in many areas, with some 860,000 children under the age of five severely malnourished. However, there is likely to be an increase in acute malnutrition during the coming lean season in most parts of the country.

“As access to those in need improves due to the peace process, we have been making significant progress in treating severe malnutrition in children, with a recovery rate above 80 per cent,” said Andrea Suley, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

“Yet, our nutrition programme has a funding gap of 88 per cent or $55.4 million. If funding is not timely secured, the children we know how to save may not make it,” Suley warned.

WFP, UNICEF and FAO along with other humanitarian organizations, have conducted massive relief operations since conflict erupted in South Sudan in late 2013, travelling usually by helicopter to reach people in isolated areas and to provide immediate, life-saving support.

In 2019, FAO aims to provide 800,000 farming, fishing and agro-pastoral households in severely food insecure areas with vegetable and crop seeds, agricultural hand tools and fishing equipment, and is carrying out vaccinations and other animal health services to prevent large-scale livestock losses, the statement said.

WFP is currently delivering aid to meet immediate needs and to bolster local people’s resilience. WFP plans to pre-position 175,000 metric tons of food in more than 60 warehouses before the onset of the rainy season — a move that will help save lives and make costly air drops unnecessary.

The UN agency is providing South Sudan’s most vulnerable with a variety of support including life-saving food and cash distributions in areas with working markets; food in return for work on the construction and rehabilitation of community assets; food for school meals; and special products to prevent and treat malnutrition among children, and pregnant or nursing women, said the statement.

—IANS/AKI

Vietnam offers support to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: UN

Vietnam offers support to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: UN

Rohingya Muslim refugees in BangladeshRome : United Nations World Food Programme in Bangladesh said it welcomed a new contribution of $50,000 from Vietnam to support operations in Coxs Bazar – home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“We are very grateful to Vietnam for stepping up to assist people living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director, in a statement.

“This remains a serious humanitarian emergency, and continued support from the international community is vital if we are to keep providing the humanitarian assistance that is so badly needed.”

Vietnam’s new aid was announced by the Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Quoc Dzung, during a visit to Bangladesh, according to WPF.

“Although this is a modest contribution, we are hopeful that our support will advance the response to this crisis situation,” he said.

Vietnam joins dozens of other states who have pledged their support to the Cox’s Bazar response since the August 2017 refugee influx, said WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 870,000 refugees per month at the sprawling refugee settlement.

The UN agency also provides nutritional and livelihood support to the host community at Cox’s Bazaar, with the aim of helping the most vulnerable, WFP said.

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence by Myanmar’s military in Northern Rakhine State. Thousands of other Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during previous periods of repression in Myanmar.

—IANS

UN spokesperson: Imran Khan’s call to Guterres centered on Kashmir

UN spokesperson: Imran Khan’s call to Guterres centered on Kashmir

Imran Khan's call to Guterres centered on KashmirBy Arul Louis,

United Nations : Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s phone call to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres centered on Kashmir, according to a UN spokesperson, who said that it was “only normal” for Guterres to speak to heads of government,.

“I can confirm to you that the phone call did happen and it centered on the issue of Kashmir as brought up by the prime minister,” Guterres’s Spokesperson Stephane Guterres told reporters here on Friday.

He did not provide any details of their conversation that took place on Thursday.

Asked by a reporter to react to Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar’s reported remark that Pakistan should mind its own business and Kashmir is a part of India, Dujarric said, “Our position on Kashmir has been reiterated, there is an observer group as mandated by the Security Council.”

The 113-member UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) established by the security council monitors the cease-fire in between the two neighbours in Kashmir.

Dujarric added, “The prime minister called, wanted to speak to the secretary-general. It is only normal that the secretary-general speak to heads of government and heads of state, and, as I said, I can confirm that the call took place and that the prime minister raised the issue of Kashmir.”

Radio Pakistan reported that Khan asked Guterres to send a commission of inquiry to investigate the human rights situation in Kashmir as recommended by former UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein earlier this year.

Although Guterres has backed Zeid’s call for the investigation and the current Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has endorsed it, neither the Human Rights Council nor other UN bodies have acted on it.

India has said that Zeid’s report on human rights violations in Kashmir and the proposal for an investigation were “clearly biased”.

UNMOGIP continues to operate under the security council mandate that grew out of a 1948 resolution that set up its predecessor organisation following the fighting that started in 1947 when Pakistani troops disguised a tribesmen invaded Kashmir soon after Independence.

India maintains that the UNMOGIP has no role because of the 1971 Simla agreement between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto stipulating that Kashmir was a bilateral issue with no role for third parties.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

—IANS

Qatar commits USD 500 million to UN, signs multi-year agreements

Qatar commits USD 500 million to UN, signs multi-year agreements

 

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani

Doha : Qatar announced a series of agreements with the United Nations that is to see $500 million injected into UN programmes over the next few years.

 

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres signed the agreements during the Doha Forum, a conference organised by Qatar and attended by leaders from several countries and other key world figures, EFE news reported on Sunday.

Guterres said the accords represented significant change in Qatar’s relation with the UN, and made the Gulf country a structural partner of the international organisation.

The UN’s International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, created in 2017, is to establish its headquarters in Doha and will receive five million dollars per year from Qatar as part of the deal.

Qatar is also expected to contribute $15 million annually to support terror victims, according to the Gulf country.

Doha will also host offices for UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

—IANS